Polls: Busy season for shamiana & mike suppliers for party meetings

Chennai: The thought of a political meeting is always associated with a decorated stage, party flags, serial lights and speakers.

With just weeks left for the general elections, parties are holding meetings in every nook and corner of the State.

When it comes to such campaigns, each expense is taken into account by the officials. For example, a jasmine garland has a slab of Rs 700, rose garland is fixed at Rs 600, woollen shawl at Rs 450, cotton shawl at Rs 250 and cotton towel at Rs 120.

Thiyagu, who rents out shamiana, flags, tables and chairs for political meetings, said mostly parties pay the amount that they actually finalise. However, he added that there are exceptions.

“They give a certain amount as advance and I give them all the materials. After the meeting gets over, some of them do not pay the full amount. Instead, they pay a paltry sum,” he lamented.

He further said, “Sometimes, due to my leaning towards one party, I rent out the materials for a minimum amount. Using this as an excuse, members from other parties also expect me to do the same for them. This at times leads to problems and creates misunderstanding,” he said.

Speaking about the rules implemented at present for holding meetings, Thiyagu said, “The police are very strict now. They allow flags to be erected only till 50 or 100 metres from the venue of the meeting. All the flags should be removed as soon as the meeting gets over. They give two hours to dismantle the entire stage. At times, the police themselves remove the flags,” he said.

Similarly, Saravanan, who is also in the business, said they were not allowed to use loud speakers and asked to use only box speakers.

“Speakers should not be used after 10 pm and serial lights should not be used on main roads and must be restricted only to the meeting arena. Permission should be sought before using speakers,” he listed out the rules.

What is spent on meetings usually comes under party expenses. The Election Commission has set a slab of Rs 70 lakh as expenditure of candidates who contest in the Lok Sabha elections. Similarly, for the Assembly elections, the limit is Rs 28 lakh. The slab is changed every five years.

Balasubramani Muniyandi